CHICAGO – Teachers have somehow gotten themselves exempt from public accountability as a profession, such as the independent requirements doctors, nurses, accountants, and others must meet.

teacherpicfrontThe results for 60 million students, their parents, and the general public has been dismaying for too long.

This key current defect has been fostered by the main teacher labor unions, the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.

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Hair stylists, barbers, plumbers, doctors, nurses, certified public accountants, etc., are all accountable professions regulated by state agencies. They are accustomed to this regulatory licensing regime, which has operated smoothly for decades.  The agencies set minimum education/training standards, investigate complaints from the public and impose discipline.

But labor union lobbyists have diluted state teacher licensing requirements, keeping teachers away from responsibility of minimum standards. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s proposal to require prospective teachers to earn at least a 3.0 GPA and above-average ACT score was refused by the state College Board because that would disqualify half the young people currently studying to teach. Other professions in the education realm have also gotten themselves similarly exempt:  principals, administrators, superintendents, librarians, counselors, clerks, custodians, etc.  Their labor unions have worked their power so far: The average elementary school teacher has a math and verbal SAT score of 960, below the national average of 1,000.


Complaints to fire incompetent, dangerous, or abusive teachers should remove them pronto.  Right now under union rules it takes years for that, with the accused teacher receiving pay for doing nothing.  School board member Tamar Galatzan of the Los Angeles Unified School District compiled the 80 (yes, 80) steps needed to fire a teacher.  The final decision was left to a 3-member committee in Sacramento, two of which were union appointees.

NEA and AFT publications do not include anything substantial about teaching improvements or evaluations.   NEA and AFT conventions do not have any substantial resolutions, seminars, breakout session, exhibits, and so on about teaching improvements or evaluations.

Professions have generally established “best practices” of procedures and standards that have proven themselves.  After 150 years of government schools, no “best practices” have been established.  This is a shameful failing.

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ONe 100-year-old teacher group is dedicated to advancing the teacher profession.  Phi Delta Kappa International has numerous chapters, publications, and meetings.  It deserves more attention.

The education industry is the biggest spender of state and local tax dollars, consuming about half of it.

Necessary changes must start with state legislators and governors, who should put the education industry under professional accountability similar to that of doctors, CPAs, and so forth.  The federal government also controls education in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories, and thousands of teachers and other staff at Department of Defense K-12 schools. Time to act.

The result can only improve the instruction of the 60 million schoolchildren who are currently being shortchanged.

Authored by Carl Olson – Heartlander

Carl Olson ([email protected]) is the founder of Textbook Trust, an adjunct professor of accounting, and member of the California Federation of Teachers.